The Source of Moral Conduct

It’s hard to find characteristics, which would explain what makes us human. Scientists use negations in order to explain this term. There is no one definite answer to this question and researches are still in the search for the right answers. Using negations scientists have finally discovered characteristics, which make humans different from other spices, which live on the planet. Qualities, which make humans different, are reasoning and moral conduct. So, reasoning and ability to make moral judgements are exceptional characteristics peculiar to humans only.
Arguments about the source of moral conduct gave birth to the development of many theories explaining this issue. These controversial approaches can be divided into two different types of moral development theories.
The first group of theories stands at the point that children acquire moral norms and standards during the process of socialization in the course of interaction with other members of the society. This means that custom is a source of moral conduct, which is developed and acquired during the process of socialization. Followers of the last group of theories often turn to social learning or behaviorist theories. Particular feature, which unites this type of theories, is the belief that morality norms are not the born peculiarity of human nature but is something attained during the human life. Examples of so children who grew up outside the society serves as a proof of this approach as these children do not show the patterns of moral conduct peculiar to other members of the society.
Another group of theories states that children are born with ready moral standards and only develop them while growing up (Piaget, Kohlberg). Adherents of this approach believe that moral conduct is a characteristic of the mind people are born with. This group of theories treats moral like an integral part of human psychics. Usually these theories are united under the name of psychoanalytic theories. Specialists who turn to cognitive development theories hold the opinion that reasoning is the main feature, which distinguishes human creatures from all the rest. Jean Piaget, psychologist from Switzerland dedicated a lot of time to the research of reasoning and moral conduct. He studied the way moral conduct was developed starting from the childhood and formed his own concepts concerning this issue. According to his theory, moral reasoning isn’t imposed to children by the society. Through the series of research and experiments he came to the conclusion that children perform rather active than passive role while adopting social norms and regulations (Piaget). According to Kant, all humans should follow universal moral low and “act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Kant, 227). Intellect operates twelve a priori forms, called categories. Kant stated that a priori forms are empty by their nature and need to be filled in by the empirical elements to become effective. Same as glass itself is a very useful device but can help us to get rid of the thirst only filled in with the water. I believe that this approach is more credible. I think that the research made by psychologists and philosophers proves that our mind is a primary source of moral conduct and reasoning is an integral part of human nature.
As we can see scientists can’t give one universal answer to the question about source of moral conduct. Presenting two controversially different approaches, two types of development theories turn to different aspects of the problem and give different explanations of the work of moral mechanisms. Two types of theories are mutually exclusive. Focusing on the moral conduct, these theories pay little attention to the behavioral patterns and their role in the life of an individual. From the other side, social learning theories do not support thesis about free will and moral choices and count only on behavior modification techniques.

1. Bersoff, David M. and Joan G. Miller. “Culture, Context, and the Development of Moral Accountability Judgments.” Developmental Psychology29, no. 4 (July 1993): 664–77.
2. Piaget, J. The Moral Judgment of the Child. New York: The Free Press, 1965.
3. Kohlberg, Lawrence. Essays on Moral Development, I: The Philosophy of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Idea of Justice. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981.
4. Kant Immanuel, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, translated by H.J. Paton (New York: Harper & Row, 1964)

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